I nailed down the problem with animations a few months back, or so I believe, with a rendered animation, animation lab tries to carry out animation on the model while still in full render mode, but it does not carry out every command all at once and as a result, if you had 5 groups with commands, then it would carry out the render for one group, then the next and so on, 5 full renders or more can take place for one frame.
Animation lab needs to render a frame, then return to wireframe, carry out all the commands movements/rotations etc for the whole drawing in wireframe, and then render full only once for each frame. Solving this has become a major problem, as there is not much feedback from the developers.
I have found that putting all of the groups in a master group saves a lot of time, but do not put static objects in the group with animated parts, as it tends to affect the render with some of the static parts as if they have a level of opaque movement picked up from the animated groups. The static parts will also render as separate objects, so for your static parts, try and add the components together into one object if the materials are the same.
I would like animation lab at present to just carry out the commands for each frame in wireframe, and pause so I could render manually, and then continue to the next frame when I am ready, it would certainly be quicker.
More information on scripting with animation lab is req'd, and I believe the developers of all addons should have section on the forum for our benefit and theirs.